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A Gold Ring set with an Ancient Carved Hardstone of Medusa - But How Ancient?

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    Posted 6 years ago

    (117 items)

    This carved hardstone is probably a pale amethyst, the gold acid tests to at least 22ct.

    The hardstone is quite small, about 11cm x 9.5cm. The image is that of Medusa, and it's known as a Gorgoneion (Medusa was one of the three Gorgon sisters). Gorgoneions were amulets to protect from evil.

    In Greek mythology Medusa's face was so terrifying that those who looked upon it were turned to stone. Perseus killed her and took her head to use as a weapon, before giving it to Athena who set in in her shield.

    Gorgoneions were a common subject for cameos throughout the Roman period, and jet versions were favored as ring stones by Roman soldiers in the Western provinces, from Germany to Britain, in the 2nd to 4th Centuries AD.

    I'm wondering if anyone has any idea how old the actual ringstone might be?

    The high carat gold, prong setting, and lack of hallmarks suggests to me the gold ring was made in Victorian times, and the shape of the ring itself is almost Art Nouveau, so I'd date the gold ring to circa 1900.

    I bought it from a guy who visited London in the 60's, and stayed with a friend whose mother had a stall at Covent Garden Markets. She sold bric-a-brac and jewellery, and gave him the ring when he left to come back to NZ.

    Any suggestions as to its actual age will be gratefully received.

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    1. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 6 years ago
      Things are not quite right on my computer lately, having it worked on, I don't know if it's just me and my computer here but I can't see photo 1 so Im only seeing side views of this ring. Looks pretty tho. 22 ct and no markings? Nice.
    2. twentiethcentury twentiethcentury, 6 years ago
      Greek Theatre mask? Melpomene, Greek for tragedy. Lovely. My family ring dating to Victorian Era does not contain any hallmarks as well. Your ring appears to be handmade so dating this to an exact time period may take the work of a specialist. My family heirloom dated between late 1800's early 1900 with the history we already knew. Good luck it is lovely.
    3. kyratango kyratango, 6 years ago
      Another beauty!
      Tourmaline??? Pale amethyst??? I think it is too vivid for rose quartz :-)
      The domed back makes me think it could be an Antique carving remounted in early Victorian ring. (Grand Tour?)
      It reminds me a little of Bocca della Verita in Roma:
    4. Bluboi Bluboi, 6 years ago
      Wonderful ring. I went through my Koch ring books and found this one ring which is similar to your configuration, though the prong setting is not the same:

      The ring is listed as an early 19th century ring. The one thing I have little knowledge of is when true prong settings were commonly used and the prongs in the Koch example are clearly different.
    5. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 6 years ago
      Thanks to all for your suggestions. I've looked at lots of Roman rings, but all are bezel set. This stone has a stepped edge that looks like it it was made for a bezel, so I am tending towards the idea that this may be an antique stone that has been reset in a modern ring.

      The gold ring has an almost Art Nouveau shape so I'm thinking made circa 1900. Ancient cameos and ring stones were frequently reset in modern settings to make them wearable.

      Kyra is probably right about the stone, pale amethyst maybe? But of course amethyst, carnelian, jasper are all versions of quartz.

      The face is cool, it reminds of Edvard Munch's "The Scream".
    6. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 6 years ago
      I'm now certain the image is Medusa. The facial expression is distinctive. I've updated the details above. Question now is whether this is an antique ringstone or a Victorian copy?
    7. kyratango kyratango, 6 years ago
      Have a look to This page, in French, but the whole blog is so interesting, worth to translate !
      Scroll down to an amethyst antique roman cameo:
    8. PostCardCollector PostCardCollector, 6 years ago
      Kyra---Your reference is such a glorious site!! Everybody will enjoy it so much--All go see!
    9. kyratango kyratango, 6 years ago
      Thank you PCC :-)
      Well worth exploring the whole site for jewellery enthousiasts, this man did extensive researches on the jewellers story!
    10. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 6 years ago
      Thanks for the link Kyra
    11. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 6 years ago
      I can see the first pic now and I was thinking the same thing...It's the screamer! lol. Interesting stories, lovin' it.

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